BLC Braille Symposium – time to register! “Touch the future”

“Touch the future”

Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) will hold its fourth annual virtual braille symposium on Friday, June 14, 2024 from 1 – 5 PM EDT (10am-2pm Pacific/11am-3pm Mountain/Saskatchewan, 12pm-4pm Central, 2pm-6pm Atlantic, 5pm-9pm UTC).

The schedule of events is as follows

  • 1:00pm EDT: Teaching Braille to Adults: Beyond Just Knowing the Code (Jennifer Ottowitz, CVRT, National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision)
  • 2:00pm EDT: Where are We Now? An Update on the Monarch Dynamic Braille and Tactile Graphics Display (Peter Tucic, Humanware)
  • 3:00 pm EDT: What’s the Problem with Pre-Braille? Re-Visiting Early braille literacy (Adam Wilton, Ph..D, Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired)
  • 4:00pm EDT: Braille Music – using technology, how do we learn it, how do we find resources? (Jordie Howell, Vision Australia, International Council on English Braille)

Each presentation will be approximately 30 minutes long, followed by a 15 minute question-and-answer period, and then a 15 minute intermission. More information on our exciting line up of speakers will be provided soon!

Stay tuned – a presentation in French will also be announced shortly!

Thank you to our incredible sponsor!

We would like to take a moment to thank our sponsor, Humanware, who through their generous support, are helping to make this event a true success, including by donating an incredible door prize!


Registration will close on June 11th, 2024. Live automatic captioning will be provided for the presentations through Zoom, and written transcripts of the presentations will be made available after the event. Once you have submitted your registration, your request will be reviewed and a Zoom link will be e-mailed to you within a few days. Email any questions you have to [email protected].


This event is open to anyone in Canada and internationally with an interest in braille. It is free of charge to members of Braille Literacy Canada (or members of organizations who are corporate members of BLC) and $20.00 for non-members. Interested in becoming a BLC member? Annual membership (open to all Canadians) is $20 – check out our membership section ( for more information

Presentation Information and Speaker Bios

Teaching Braille to Adults: Beyond Just Knowing the Code

Speaker: Jennifer Ottowitz, CVRT
Time: 1 PM Eastern

Adults of all ages who are blind or have low vision may benefit from learning braille. In addition to goals for using braille for extensive reading, even learning a few symbols can result in increased independence with identifying items or increased socialization through playing games. Whatever the braille goal, effective instruction involves more than just teaching the braille code. How do you get started and what approaches work best? Discover how to incorporate adult learning theory into assessment and instruction to make learning more meaningful and relevant. Information will be shared about a free resource that provides strategies and suggestions for how to approach braille learning with adults, how to use assessment and instructional strategies for reading and writing braille, and how to keep learners motivated. Customizing instruction for individuals with unique learning needs and additional comorbidities will also be discussed.

  • Identify how to positively address misconceptions about learning braille.
  • Explain how adult learning theory can be incorporated into braille assessment and instruction.
  • Describe the Teaching Braille to Adults course offered by the National Research and Training Center On Blindness and Low Vision.

Jennifer Ottowitz is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Older Blind Specialist with the Older Individuals Who Are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) which is part of the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision housed at Mississippi State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Special Education for the Multiply and Orthopedically Handicapped from Kent State University and her Master of Science in Education degree in Special Education for the Visually Impaired from Northern Illinois University. She is co-editor of the Foundations of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy textbook and brings over 30 year’s experience providing direct service to adults who are blind or who have low vision. As a braille reader herself she understands firsthand the importance of braille as a tool for literacy and independence.

Where are We Now? An Update on the Monarch Dynamic Braille and Tactile Graphics Display

Speaker: Peter Tucic
Time: 2 PM Eastern

Join Peter Tucic, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at HumanWare, for a discussion on the Monarch tactile graphics and multi-line braille display. With the release being only months away, Peter will provide updates on availability, results of educational field testing and teacher trainings, and the feature set that will be ready for launch for this revolutionary device. Peter will also talk of what is to come, and will have time to answer participant questions.


Peter Tucic graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. Peter is currently the Brand Ambassador of Blindness Products for HumanWare. He travels throughout the US and Canada, supporting teachers and students and presenting at state and national conferences. Peter has presented at such conferences as the National ACB and NFB, in addition to the CSUN and ATIA conferences amongst many others. Peter has also been published in Closing the Gap magazine and regularly creates written and video tutorials for a wide array of products.

What’s the Problem with Pre-Braille? Re-Visiting Early Braille Literacy

Speaker: Adam Wilton, Ph.D.
Time: 3 PM Eastern

This presentation looks critically at the skills and techniques generally referred to as “pre-braille” skills in the early literacy development of learners who are blind or partially sighted. We’ll look at how strategies and approaches have evolved to support the development of these skills in increasingly digital learning spaces. We’ll review the tactile strategies that are essential to early braille reading and writing and how they can be adapted for a range of learner profiles – using the Braille Bites series as a foundation. Finally, the presentation will provide a rationale and call to action for prioritizing tactile strategies for all blind and partially sighted learners. Join us for a lively discussion of tips and tricks about touch!


Adam Wilton, PhD, is the Program Manager of the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has been an educator for 17 years, working mostly as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Adam has numerous connections to the braille world – he is a Director for Braille Literacy Canada, the Coordinator of the BC Regional Braille Challenge, and the past Chair of the Canadian Association of Educational Resource Centres for Alternate Format Materials.

Braille Music – using technology, how do we learn it, how do we find resources?

Speaker: Jordie Howell
Time: 4 PM Eastern

It is incredible to think of Louis braille, a teenager in the 1800s geeking around with dots to create what we now call braille and braille music. In addition to literary braille, Louis Braille’s system for music in braille is still the only international braille code in existence. If you borrow a braille music score in Canada, Australia, Norway or Vietnam, you will recognize the note values, time signatures and fundamental signs. Formatting differs quite drastically though.

This presentation will be split into three parts:

  • Introduction: brief description of what braille music is and how does it work?
  • Resources available to learn braille music: books, YouTube videos and podcasts.
    I will direct participants to some online resources in different countries to assist them to begin their journey in braille music learning.
  • Demonstrations of braille music translation programs from a braille using perspective on how to convert print music into braille.
    Examples of conversions with Goodfeel, Musescore and SMB will be included as well as an overview of the DAISY Music Braille Project.

Jordie is the Immediate Past Chair of the Australian Braille Authority, and the Australian representative to the International Council on English Braille for which she also chairs the music committee. She is a braille music transcriber for Vision Australia where she works with volunteers to convert print music to braille, as well as help develop automation processes in braille music translation. Jordie is also the music teacher with the Statewide Vision Resource Centre in Victoria where she enjoys working with children learning braille technologies along with braille music, and running professional development for teachers in braille music.

Braille music has been a vital tool in Jordie’s professional singing and teaching work.

Jordie is a classical soprano and sings professionally as a soloist and in choirs. A passionate advocate for braille and a lifelong braille user, Jordie is in her happy place when braille and music are in almost every aspect of her life.

Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada, founded in 1990 as the Canadian Braille Authority, is a national charitable organization dedicated to the promotion of braille as the primary medium of literacy for those who are blind or visually impaired. BLC is recognized by the International Council on English Braille as the authority for the development, adoption, and establishment of standards relating to braille in Canada. With a membership comprising organizations and individuals, educators, braille transcribers, braille producers, parents of braille users and braille users themselves, BLC represents a broad cross-section of those working with or impacted by braille and is led by a volunteer board of directors elected by the BLC membership.

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